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Putin, In Annual Address, Denounces Foreign Meddling

  • RFE/RL

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual address to parliament, has warned against outsiders interfering with Russia's internal affairs.

The address to the Federal Assembly was Putin's first such speech since he began a third term as president in May.

"Direct or indirect meddling in our internal political processes is unacceptable," Putin said. "A public figure who receives foreign funding for his or her political activity and thus most probably serves foreign national interests cannot be a politician in the Russian Federation."

Following four years as prime minister, Putin was reelected to a new six-year term in March despite a wave of protests.

His return to office has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent. Scores of opposition activists have been arrested. Laws have been introduced imposing heavy fines on protesters and restrictions on civil society groups.

In the December 12 address, Putin spoke of the need to preserve the Russian "national and spiritual identity."

He said the fall in population growth is one of the biggest threats Russia faces.

In his 80-minute nationally televised speech, Putin warned against extremism and said authorities will not allow "closed ethnic enclaves" with their own rules and laws in Russia.

"Unity, integrity, and sovereignty of Russia are unconditional," Putin said. "Any manifestations of separatism or nationalism ought to be completely banished from political agenda."

Putin also said migration rules, including entry rules for nationals of former Soviet republics, should be tightened.

"I consider that no later than 2015, only foreign passport holders should be allowed entry to Russia -- not those with internal passports of other countries," Putin said.

He also promised tougher efforts to tackle corruption and address other social problems.

Putin has been in power since 2000, serving two terms as president followed by four years as prime minister before his reelection as president in March.


With reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and Reuters

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